While the mobile print paradigm has moved forward – driven by the demands of a growing mobile workforce, the continued blurring of work and personal time, and the proliferation of affordable, highly featured smartphones and tablets – market fragmentation and a lack of defined standards is impeding adoption by the early majority. Despite these initial growing pains, the print industry understands what's at stake, and International Data Corporation (IDC) expects it will come together on some common standards to meet customer expectations on mobile printing, transitioning from a "nice to have" to a "must have" feature.
For the end user, the mobile printing value proposition primarily centers on convenience. Users can print anytime, anywhere from their handheld device without installing print drivers or having other specific knowledge about a printer, such as its IP address. Mobile workers can begin to leave their computers behind when traveling outside of the "home office," with the knowledge that they can still print documents if necessary.
"Customers are educated about the mobile print value proposition and are increasingly engaging with providers. Lack of standardization is a barrier for adoption by the early majority, despite recommendation by early adopters," said Dinesh Srirangpatna, research manager, Hardcopy Peripherals: Software and Services. "In addition, the increased adoption by the market presents vendors with an opportunity to target specific segments of the market (consumer to enterprise) or sub-segments of the market (education, pay for use, etc.). Vendors that do not have a mobile print solution need to develop the capability, or partner with someone providing the capability."
Though printing solutions for mobile workers, such as the EFI PrintMe product, have been available for a number of years, the market for solutions that enable printing and related functions from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets is still maturing. Rapid adoption has been slowed by challenges related to device discovery, device registration, and device (mobile OS) printing support to name a few.
Vendors should look at mobile printing holistically, spanning the entire consumer/small office home office [SOHO] to enterprise experience. As far as possible, the solution should be consistent across the consumer/SOHO and business context.